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In a shocking turn of events, after the Pittsburgh Riverhounds won their first game of the season over Toronto FC II, 2-1, at Highmark Stadium, the team’s head coach, and United Soccer League Hall of Famer, Mark Steffens announced that he was relieved of his coaching duties prior to Saturday’s game.
After taking a few questions about the win, Steffens was asked about finally getting a win after a difficult start to the season.

“It’s a pretty tough day for me — this was my last game coaching the Riverhounds.  I was told that yesterday by the organization  I was being let go,” said an emotional Steffens.
“It’s bittersweet.   I’m going to get pretty emotional here. I love my players.”

“We didn’t start off well. I have no hard feelings toward (Riverhounds owner) Tuffy (Shallenberger).  Good people here.”
“I wish I could be here for a lot longer. I wasn’t going to tell the players.  But found out that a couple knew, so I went to the team prior to the game — and it was emotional.”
 The Riverhounds struggled to get off to a good start — going winless in seven league games prior to Saturday’s win, and then to make matters more difficult — the Hounds lost 2-0 to amateur side Lansdowne Bhoys FC on Wednesday night in the 2nd Round of the U.S. Open Cup.
As the game approached the 68th minute, it looked like more of the same for the Riverhounds, who’ve struggled to generate quality shots and scoring chances for a long stretch.  In fact, heading into the second half, the Riverhounds hadn’t scored a goal since early in the first half of its game against New York Red Bulls II on May 7.
“At halftime, I thought, he we go again,” said Steffens.
“We were really possessing the ball, but still couldn’t find quality shots on goal.”
After back-and-forth, open play between both teams, the Riverhounds earned a corner kick in the 68th minute.
Kevin Kerr played a short corner to an unmarked Lebo Moloto, who took one touch and then bent a terrific ball past a diving TFCII Quillan Roberts for the Hounds first goal in nearly three full games.
“World class goal by Lebo,” said Steffens.
Moloto to dashed to the bench to embrace his coach.
We we would only learn later that hug was more than a celebration of a goal.
 “Never expected that after Lebo scored the goal that he would come over,” said Steffens.


“That was special moment to be able to share that.”

“You can see how much it meant to the boys — to go out and win — and when Lebo scored – how the boys reacted,” said Kerr.
“It was much more than winning a game.”

 Moments later, the Hounds would add an important goal from Corey Hertzog, on a nice one-time volley for a 2-0 edge.
Although Toronto would add a goal by Malik Johnson in the 83rd minute, the Hounds bottled up the Baby Reds attack for the rest of the way to hold on for the win.
After the game, the Riverhounds only released an official statement that included the following:
Pittsburgh Riverhounds owner Tuffy Shallenberger and head coach Mark Steffens have mutually agreed to part ways.
“We appreciate what Mark has done in his time with the club,” Shallenberger said.
“You never like to see things of this nature happen, but we both agreed this was the best decision for the club’s future. We wish Mark the best of luck in his future endeavors.”

Assistant coach Josh Rife will also be let go, but there is no word on who the next coach will be, and if it will be an interim or permanent hire, although an announcement is expected by the end of the weekend.
Steffens offered some final words as he concluded his press conference with both assistant coaches, Rife and Niko Katic at his side.

“We got off to a bad start. I am not blaming anybody. That’s professional sports,” added Steffens.
“I’d like to thank everyone in the organization — thank you. And everyone here in Pittsburgh for your support.”

Pittsburgh Soccer Report’s John Krysinsky will have more from tonight’s game and follow up in the coming days.  

John Krysinsky has covered soccer and other sports for many years for various publications and media outlets. He is also author of 'Miracle on the Mon' -- a book about the Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC, which chronicles the club, particularly the early years of Highmark Stadium with the narrative leading up to and centered around a remarkable match that helped provide a spark for the franchise. John has covered sports for Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, DK Pittsburgh Sports, Pittsburgh Sports Report, has served as color commentator on Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC broadcasts, and worked with OPTA Stats and broadcast teams for US Open Cup and International Champions Cup matches held in the US. Krysinsky also served as the Head Men’s Soccer Coach at his alma mater, Point Park University, where he led the Pioneers to the first-ever winning seasons and playoff berths (1996-98); head coach of North Catholic boys (2007-08), associate head coach of Shady Side Academy boys (2009-2014).

Riverhounds MF Danny Griffin

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